Critical Evaluation of Project

In general, I personally feel the project has been a success, despite not being 100% haoppy with the final output (more on this later!). I have learned much on the way, have devised and tested a range of techniques, have come up against problems and found a way round them and have found a number of new contexts for my artistic endeavours. I feel that I have really identified with sonic art in the context of audio-visual (av) composition and started to move away from the idea of simple producing av output to ideas of installation/performance within which the av content is an important but not solitary element.

The Good Stuff

  • The positional techniques and trig maths worked, phew!
  • All software elements generally stood up to the task, in particular the Processing implementation of OSC (see below for more detail) although looking ugly, did the trick
  • I learned some Java syntax and Processing methods
  • I developed some useful audio editing techniques eg removing detail noise from an atmosphere track and using it as an audio event
  • I tested out use of volume, frequency filter and reverb to create the sensation of distance from the point of audition (POA)
  • Similarly, I tested out the use of pan and additional frequency cut (for sounds to the rear) to create the sensation of direction from teh POA

Bad Stuff

  • I underestimated the time it would take to capture some decent field recordings, a month rather than a week may have been better
  • I was not very happy with the final field recordings, especially car, aircraft and high gain noise
  • Car and aircraft noise I begrudgingly got used to and after all these sounds are part of the environment
  • The gain noise I found more annoying – quiet broad in frequency, it runs right across the sound of water trickling through the mud, which was a key sound I wanted to preserve, inevitably much of the noise remains despite my efforts to supress it – at least the water trickling noise is audible.
  • The main audio sources that was suitable for use as sound event were seagull cries as these were generally nearer to the mic and cut through background noise, fine except slightly limiting in terms of an audio event palette, I was tempted to rename the project ‘generative seagull’ ;-0
  • Although Resolume generally behaved as a master av performance platform, I had some issues exporting a decent render to be used as the actual submission

If I did it all again

  • I would have to consider which is more important, fidelity to the environment I am seeking to re-construct or fidelity of audio as there is an evitable compromise to be struck
  • If I went down the field recording as only source route again, I would need to up-spec recording equipment and spend longer capturing sources
  • I would instead be tempted to re-create/re-interpret the sounds using synthesis which would be great fun and would also mean clean sound sources 😉
  • The visuals played second fiddle in this project, naturally as it is a sound module, I would want to think about these in more detail if I did it again
  • I would try to improve the use of digital sound processing to achieve positional audio, in particular the convincing placement of sound  behind the POA is difficult to achieve with standard 2 speaker/headphone set up
  • Ideally, I would mitigate the above by piping the sound to multiple speakers in an installation environment 😉

A note on the images

In the end I decided to use a small number of detail shots of the jetty rather than the advancing point of view shot I’d previously used. The detail shots are in sequence running from shore to mud ends of the jetty and roughly match up in position to the placement of the triangular point of audition (POA) marker shown on the schematic.

I like the close-up textures and their sense of ‘attrition in the face of the elements’. Hopefully these oblique views of location help to draw focus and give more purpose to the audio.

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